Why I Hate My Essay

I wrote an essay. Mr. Lange, a college guidance counselor at ASPIRE, passed it out like candy. I received hatfulls of gold stars from those who read it, but as I re-read it today, I despise it. Completely. Thoroughly. I think it's been the cause of a great rumbling monster of discontent that grew in my toes and sent up roots through my hair, settling a fidgety plump body somewhere in my stomach.

Why? It has to do with the word success, and my ease at compromise.

During the editing process, a phrase got axed. I wrote that I wanted to be "ever unsatisfied with success." A wonderful and well-meaning woman suggested I drop it. "Do you really not want success?" she asked. It was a defining moment, but I didn't realize it. I was thinking that colleges polish their students for success, hoping to launch alumni into stardom so that a little cosmic glitter settles on their establishment. They wouldn't want someone content with flipping mechanically separated meat at McDonalds.

So being pleasure-sucking, people-pleasing flake as I am, I chopped the phrase and plunked a vague mention of "true success" being fueled by wonder, and left it at that. It sounds as watery as it is. My writing, which I always promised would reach for burning Truth, had compromised.

But it wasn't just compromise.  I want success. Drop the "true", if I meant it I would have defined it. Gold stars galore! Applause! Adoring gazes! Praise! I'll take God on board if He helps me be happy, nice, and full of bouncy light that makes people like me. I'm all for humility as long as everyone else knows how fabulous I am. I'm all for service if it makes me a blazing leader with my face on magazines and my name in history books. God wants me to do Great Things, right? Love with style.

Because Jesus lived a marvelously successful American Dream. He had mansions with elevators and bowling alleys. The powers of the kingdom adored Him. He found romance in Paris and lounged on Italian beaches. He had a BMW and a jumbo flat screen TV. He told the rich young ruler to just love everyone and he'd be a super successful leader, too.

Or He was homeless. He didn't have a job. The powers killed Him. He spent His life on the broken and the sinners. He had nothing. He told the rich young ruler to sell everything he owned and follow Him.

I love a story called You Are Special by Max Lucado. The Wemmicks, little carved people, stick stars and dots to each other, stars for praise, dots for criticism. The successful are gleaming with stars, the downtrodden are laden with dots. But for those who meet the Carpenter both stars and dots flake off and they never stick again.

I enjoy my gold stars too much. I enjoy them so much I'm willing to sacrifice what really matters, even truth in my writing, and even truth in my life.

That's why I hate my essay. It betrayed my heart.

I choose to face Jesus, and the stars flake to my feet. Only He can change my heart and teach me to be bold despite the consequences. I want to live His dream. I don't want success. I want Him.


  1. I'm sorry, darling. :( Have you tried telling Mr. Lange that you'd like to pull it back for edits - seeing as it's YOUR work - or does it not work that way?

  2. I already submitted it :). Anyway, it's not the essay, it's what it revealed about me.

  3. Awesome post, girl!! And ugh, I hate and love the times where you do something that makes you step back and go, "Whoa. Is that ME??? Is that really what I THINK???" Revelation can be excruciatingly helpful. Yuck x) But yay too :P And that's an awesome line "I don't want success. I want Him." I'm glad He spoke to you through re-reading the essay, as un-fun as it may have been ;)